Bodhi Coffee

The sign outside Bodhi Coffee. Bodhi's symbol, a leaf, topped by the words "Bodhi Coffee" with the address at the bottom.I can’t believe that it’s been six months since my trip to Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Such was the embarrassment of riches that I found during my visit, especially in Philadelphia, that here I am, still writing up places from the trip.

Today it’s the turn of Bodhi, the first stop on the Sunday Coffee Spot tour of Philadelphia I took with my local guide, Greg of Coffee Guru App, and journalist, Drew Lazor, who was writing about my visit You can read Drew’s piece on-line and also see what Greg’s made of this leg of my trip.

Other than being a lovely spot for coffee, especially on a sunny Sunday morning, Bodhi’s main claim to fame is that, as far as Greg knows, it’s the oldest building in Philadelphia that’s in use as a coffee shop. Situated on Headhouse Square in Philadelphia’s south side in the historic (and beautiful) Society Hill neighbourhood, the building dates back to the 1700s, although Bodhi’s only its most recent tenant.

Serving Elixr on espresso, and with beans from both Elixr and Stumptown available as either bulk-brew or filter, Bodhi certainly makes the grade when it comes to coffee.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • Bodhi Coffee's narrow storefront on Headhouse Square...
  • ... and looking down S. 2nd St, there's the Head House itself, a 1804 fire station.
  • Running down the middle of S. 2nd St, across from Bodhi, is the Headhouse Market.
  • Back to Bodhi and some of the best outside seating in town.
  • Being a fan of light-fittings, I was bound to be smitten by this lamp post!
  • The sign's pretty cool too!
  • The outdoor seating has got the tree surrounded!
  • Stepping inside, a panoramic view from just inside the door...
  • ... and a more conventional view from the back of the store.
  • The bench between counter & window, plus detritus from two coffee-bloggers & a journalist!
  • The table opposite.
  • Left to my own devices, I'd have been there, at the end of the counter!
  • Nice light-fittings.
  • And in more detail.
  • I was particularly taken by this contraption!
  • Shelves of coffee and coffee-making kit for sale at the back.
  • More coffee for sale: Stumptown (top) and Elixr (bottom).
  • There's a wide range of coffee on offer...
  • ... and a surprising amount of tea too!
  • Hand-pour filter can be through either the Chemex...
  • ... or the Aeropress.
  • There's also bulk brew.
  • I was struck by the takeaway cups, but, as ever, was having something to stay, not go.
  • I ordered espresso. My saucer arrived first, complete with glass of water.
  • The beans are ground...
  • And off we go!
  • The finished product was lovely.
  • Greg, meanwhile, had a cortado, an excellent choice.
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Bodhi occupies a narrow store-front in a long terrace of three-storey red brick buildings on Philadelphia’s South 2nd Street. The broad, brick-paved sidewalk is lined with trees and, in the middle of the cobbled street, a long, brick-pillared colonnade shelters the Headhouse Farmers’ Market (Sundays from May to Christmas). Had I wanted to sit outside during my time in Philadelphia, this would have been the perfect spot, with a pair of tables on the sun-drenched sidewalk, one either side of the tree which had conveniently taken root opposite the door. Alternatively, if you want the view, but prefer a little more shelter, you can always sit inside at the window bar.

Bodhi’s not a big place. Long and thin, it’s just wide enough for the door (on the left-hand side) and a tall window (on the right). The seating is all at the front, with the counter taking up the back two-thirds of the store, a narrow corridor to its left leading to the restrooms at the back. At first it looks an inefficient use of the space, but by saving the front of the store for the seating, it actually maximises the natural light available. It also means that those waiting for their coffee can do so without disturbing everyone else, an important criterion in my book.

Double doors at the end of a small entrance foyer open into the store. Directly ahead of you, up against the left-hand wall, are a pair of small, two-person tables, while the bulk of the seating is behind you and to your right. Immediately to your right, another small, two-person table stands against the wall of the entrance foyer, while opposite this, running the length of the right-hand wall between counter and window, is a wooden bench with three more tables. If tables aren’t your thing, you can perch at the aforementioned window bar or opposite that at the end of the counter, where four bar chairs provide the perfect opportunity to watch the baristas at work.

Although there’s not much room for all this seating, Bodhi actually feels quite spacious, the natural light from the large window being enhanced by the white walls and ceiling and the clean, uncluttered look. There are also plenty of lights, particularly towards the back.

The counter itself runs lengthways, with the till and the ordering point midway up, past the espresso machine and out of the way of the seating. Food-wise, there are bagels and a small selection of cake. Where Bodhi comes into its own is in the coffee. Local roasters/café, Elixr, provides the espresso blend and there were no fewer than five single-origin beans available through either Aeropress or Chemex. These were all either from Elixr or Stumptown. There was also a bulk-brew option.

Having had pour-over at Elixr itself, I tried the espresso, which came with a glass of water as standard. This is always a good sign and a welcome change from being directed to the more traditional pour-it-yourself table of glasses and water bottles. The espresso itself was excellent, quite a sweet coffee, with a nice mouth-feel and no sharp edges. Greg tried it as a cortado and was very pleased with his choice.

Great coffee, great location, the ideal spot for an interview, in fact.

410 S. 2ND STREET • PHILADELPHIA • PA 19147 • USA +1 267 239 2928
Monday 07:00 – 18:00 Roaster Elixr + Stumptown (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:00 – 18:00 Seating Tables, Window Bar, Counter, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 07:00 – 18:00 Food Cake, Bagels
Thursday 07:00 – 18:00 Service Counter
Friday 07:00 – 18:00 Cards Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Wifi No
Sunday 08:00 – 18:00 Power Yes
Chain Local Visits 9th March 2014

Liked this? Then take a look at the Coffee Spot Guide to Philadelphia for more great coffee Spots.

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